Quibi’s #FreeRayshawn, written by Marc Maurino, captured the Writers Guild Award for Original & Adapted Short Form New Media.
The victory had a much different feel from last September, when the show won two Creative Arts Emmys in a breakthrough for the startup, which earned 10 Emmy nominations. A month after that bright spot, Quibi said it was shutting down after failing to gain traction during Covid-19 and burning through most of its $1.75 billion in funding. In January of this year, Roku announced it had acquired Quibi’s library, which plans to start streaming it later in 2021.
In his acceptance speech, Maurino thanked the WGA and “my fellow writers, who know the tyranny of the blank page.” He also thanked the show’s executive producer, Antoine Fuqua, and cast members including Laurence Fishburne, Cephas Jones and Stephan James.
Not mentioned among two dozen names in the speech was Quibi creator Jeffrey Katzenberg, who earned shout-outs at the Creative Arts Emmys. The famed studio executive and DreamWorks co-founder spent three years on the stump for the streaming service, whose failure proved a rare career misstep.
Six months ago, despite the signs of Emmy progress, host Jimmy Kimmel roasted Quibi during last fall’s main Emmy show, calling it “the dumbest thing to ever cost a billion dollars.” WGA Awards host Kal Penn decided to take one last swipe at the defunct streaming service in his opening monologue.
“This year has been full of big changes,” he said. “Most writers rooms went virtual and moved to Zoom, which no one saw coming. Quibi failed, which everyone saw coming.”
Watch Penn’s entire opening monologue above. (In a parallel universe, the three-minute segment could be streaming on Quibi.)
Created by Maurino, #FreeRayshawn centers on Rayshawn (played by James), a young, Black veteran of the Iraq War. He finds himself in a standoff with a SWAT team, after an incident with undercover cops results in unintended, fatal consequences. Trapped in his apartment with his wife (Jones) and child, Rayshawn looks to social media and a sympathetic police lieutenant (Fishburne), in an effort to clear his name.